April 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 4
Kids Scoot on Bugs and Turtle Shells
New Ride-ons Give Classics a Run for Their Money
Although classic ride-on toys and wagons from big companies such as Radio Flyer are selling well, 49 specialty retailers also told TDmonthly Magazine that newer ride-on toys that put a twist on a traditional concept are picking up speed.
One new toy that seems to be selling well is a spin on the traditional scooter, according to John Allen of J.W. Allen & Sons in Park City, Utah.
“For older kids, I sell off-road scooters. The scooters from Diggler sell really well. They’re like a cross between a skateboard and a mountain bike,” he told TDmonthly.
Jeff Boyd, owner of Peak-A-Boo Toys in Breckenridge, Colo., agreed: “It’s got knobby tires, like a mountain bike. It’s really cool — like a big skateboard.”
Another take on the traditional is the electric-powered Vector “skoogo” — featuring elements of a scooter and a go-cart — by Innovative Transportation Vehicles.
Additionally, the Zogo and Zomgo Skateboards from ACT International (ToyShow) add a rope-and-pulley propulsion system to the basic board, for ease of operation that’s ideal for beginning riders.
The Wheely Bug from Prince Lionheart (ToyShow) has also caught retailers’ eyes. “Wheely Bugs from Australia…are bug shaped and fun,” Dan Marshall, owner of Peapods Natural Toys & Baby Care in St. Paul, Minn., told TDmonthly.
Sixty-nine percent of the retailers TDmonthly surveyed mentioned Radio Flyer, indicating that the company’s wagons, ride-on toys and even rocking horses continue to sell well. (See TDmonthly's Top-10 Most-Wanted Sleds, Wagons and Trikes).
“Radio Flyer has a corner in the marketplace. They’ve been around for a long time,” Boyd commented.
The PlasmaCar from Plasmart (ToyShow) may well be on its way to becoming a classic.
“PlasmaCars have gone just crazy lately. We sell a whole lot of them,” Donna Dobkin of Leapin' Lizards Toy Company in Bend, Ore., told TDmonthly.
Jude Larene, owner of Seattle’s Izilla Toys, agreed: “I sell a lot of PlasmaCars.”
Allen had some insight into why they’re popular: “What’s just great is that as you get used to it, they work by — wiggle and go. It’s nice that you can ride them inside and outside. Even older kids like them — you can get up good speed on them. It’s our biggest seller.”
What to Make of It
Although classics such as wagons, sleds, ride-on cars and rocking horses continue to attract customers, toys don’t have to be classic to succeed with buyers. The PlasmaCar and Diggler scooters, for example, give traditional a fresh twist, adding speed and a sturdiness that make riding around cooler than ever for today’s smaller drivers.
Some of the toys retailers and manufacturers told TDmonthly to watch include the following:
The Original PlasmaCar continues to intrigue and fascinate. Powered by kid power; no batteries, gears, or pedals needed. Just sit, put your feet up, and turn the steering wheel to propel yourself forward. The patented safety seat design places riders in a safe, comfortable position and minimizes tipping. Moves up to 6 mph on any smooth, flat surface. Supports up to 220 lbs. Visit www.plasmacar.com to see all the wonderful colors available.
— In a March 2015 survey, two out of 10 retailers told TDmonthly that Plasmacar is a best-selling outdoor toy.
— As of 05/13/2011 this product had 4.5 out of 5 stars from 122 reviews on Amazon.com. Cons: Does not work well on surfaces that aren't completely smooth.
— This top-seller in specialty stores earned a TDmonthly Top Toy 2007 award for its distinctive aerodynamic design and ease-of-use. TDmonthly believes it has the potential to become a classic due to its fresh, contemporary appeal and application in a child’s formative years.
Awards: 2012 Parents Choice Awards Recommended, 2009 Green Parents List Check Mark, 2009 DisneyFamily.com Top Action Figures and Toys for Toddlers, 2009+2008+2005 The National Parenting Centre Seal of Approval, 2008 iParenting Media Toy Award, 2008 Fat Brain Toy Award Active Play, 2006 TIA Outdoor Toy of the Year - Specialty Toy of the Year, 2006 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award, 2005 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award, 2005 Dr. Toy Best Vacation Products, 2005 Creative Child Seal of Excellence, 2001 International Patent Fair, Hong Kong Gold Medal
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3829 (added 6/28/2005)
Multi-award winning and multi-directional Wheely Bugs, distributed in the United States by Prince Lionheart, go backward, forward, sideways and 'round and 'round. These ride-on bugs have a magical mind of their own. Their bodies have a padded layer of sponge, which is covered with a tough polyurethane skin that can easily be wiped clean. Handmade and crafted from the highest quality materials, Wheely Bug features multi-directional casters and unlimited mobility on all level surfaces. “The fact that the Wheely Bug is multi-directional, encourages gross motor skills and at the same time is heaps of fun,” explains its appeal, said Sarah Eastman, sales and marketing associate at Prince Lionheart. “In addition,” she continued, “this is a great product for the specialty market because it is handmade and beautifully crafted. Now moms can let their kids play with bugs, worry-free.”
― Wheely Bug was a Toy Fair favorite spotted by Terry Myers, owner of Kaleidoscope Toys in Round Rock, Texas. It was voted Toy of the Year in BabyTalk's Dec. 2006/Jan. 2007 issue and received the 2007 Silver Award for Best Baby & Infant Product in The Netherlands.
— This handmade Australian toy earns gold stars for everything — wooden base, sturdy construction, simple design, adorable themes, easy-to-clean seat, multi-directional motion and two size options — all adding up to its receipt of a TDmonthly Top Toy 2007 award.
— Two of 60 retailers in a March 2009 survey listed Prince Lionheart Wheely Bugs as a best-selling ride-in in their stores. The Wheely Bug was a best seller at Golden Apple Learning Store in Pleasanton, Calif., in summer 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10241 (added 11/27/2006)
It’s not hard to see what makes the Dirt Dawg different from other scooters on the market — there are simply no other scooters like this! The Diggler model offers a larger standing platform, suspension fork and mountain bike brakes to create a fun ride that is part scooter, part mountain bike, part skateboard and all fun. This hard scooter is stable and offers powerful tires and a stable ride that is perfect, even on rougher terrain. A range of colors makes it easy to select the right style.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11813 (added 3/6/2007)
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bilibo is a Swiss-designed plastic shell that rocks when children sit in it. Kids have fun stacking the product as well, since it nests snugly in other brightly colored bilibos. Young children enjoy the simple design that they use in many imaginative ways. Awards: 2010 TIA Awards Toy of the Year; 2006 UK Good Toy Awards Toy of the Year; 2003 Deutscher Lernspielpreis, Auswahlliste; 2002 Dr. Toy 10 Best Active Products; 2002 Spiel Guy Arbeitsausschuss Kinderspiel 2002; 2002 Design Distinction I.D. Design Review
— "bilibo: We had to keep ordering it," was the response about hot-selling Xmas toys that TDmonthly got from Jenny Goodlund, manager at JT Puffin’s in Madison, Wis.
— Peg Scholtes, owner of Capitol Kids Ltd. in Madison, Wis., had great things to say about bilibo: "It's great for 2- to 5-year-olds. It's the modern version of the cardboard box."
— “We keep a DVD going up on the front counter that shows kids playing with [the bilibo]. Kids instinctively understand it, but adults don’t,” said Co-owner Mary Sisson of Kazoodles in Vancouver, Wash., of this best seller in her store.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3522 (added 5/10/2005)
Radio Flyer has reinvented the toy wagon yet again. The company’s Ultimate Family Wagon sports a five-fold seat (patent pending) that allows for multiple seating and storage setups. Choose from 1) two children in seats with parent access storage, 2) one child in seat + covered storage area, 3) one child in seat + extra large storage area, 4) one child in seat + tray table + storage area, or 5) seats fold flat for flatbed wagon. Child seat belts are included, as is a UV-protection canopy that removes in seconds. There are two child cup holders and two adult cup holders.
— "The best quality wagons are probably Radio Flyer. They have a lock hold on the wagon market," said Casey Sartain, manager of Tutoring Toy Inc. in Salt Lake City, Utah.
— "We sell a wide range of Radio Flyer wagons, which continue to be a hit," commented Kim Emigh, managing partner at Growing Tree Toys & Books in State College, Pa.
— Cheryl Barrett of Mystical Toys in Mystic, Conn., said of Radio Flyer, "More of the toys are child safe and fewer things fall off or detach."
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9639 (added 10/6/2006)
Vector by INNOVATIVE TRANSPORTATION VEHICLES LLC
Other products from INNOVATIVE TRANSPORTATION VEHICLES LLC
This electric-powered vehicle features a quiet motor and a top speed of 20 mph. Children can cruise around the campground, golf course, beach, race track or neighborhood without disturbing others. The Vector has dual front disc brakes, low-profile tires, rechargeable sealed batteries, an adjustable seat with a safety belt, rearview mirrors, aluminum wheels, direct chain drive, a fiberglass safety flag and a twist throttle with a keyed switch. Called a "skoogo," it falls somewhere between an electric scooter and a go-cart in design and functionality. "Continuous improvement is part of our theme at ITV. We are constantly looking for improvements in safety and performance, weight [and] cost,” Founder Ron Carl of Innovative Transportation Vehicles told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11622 (added 2/23/2007)
This product has cool all-terrain styling, oversized wheels, detailed hub caps and a sporty front bumper, as well as two forward and one reverse gear, and auto-lock brakes for safety. It is the first ride-on with a remote control that allows parents to stop the vehicle. The Dominator stops automatically at the push of a button, and when it is out of RC range. The remote control is a nice feature for parents who are used to “following behind [their children] in sort of a zig-zag fashion” when their kids are learning to ride, VP of Sales Peter Lowe of AMAV Enterprises told TDmonthly. He added that parents, especially while shopping in specialty stores, “can stop and focus on the safety feature” and really understand how it works. Launch date: March 1, 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11322 (added 2/1/2007)
Zogo Skateboard by ACT INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION
Other products from ACT INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION
This is the world's first skateboard with a patent-pending propulsion system. With this simple and easy-to-operate skateboard, the Zogo rider just sits or stands on the board and pulls up on the ropes to make Zogo go. A pivoting caster assembly in the front makes it easy to turn simply by putting more weight on the left or right foot. It does not only bring the zooming fun, but also provides kids with plenty of exercise, especially for the upper body, and improves balance and coordination. Three colors are available: red, blue and green. Kids will like its racecar-like look. This model is a limited edition with only 1000 units available. Inventor Hong Prodnuk told TDmonthly that her young daughter “loves it so much and can also sit down and pull the ropes. [It’s] just very good for the beginners.” Launch date: March 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10635 (added 12/12/2006)
Zomgo Skateboard by ACT INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION
Other products from ACT INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION
The next generation of Zogo, the Zomgo features colorful and durable plastic housing that covers the underside mechanism, replacing the metal housing of the original. It is also restyled and slightly lighter than the Zogo. Riders simply stand or sit on the board and pull the ropes to propel the skateboard forward, leaning to turn. Single- and double-kick models are available. “With its unique patent-pending propulsion system of ropes and pulleys, it is simple and easy to ride on, even for beginners. ... It provides kids with plenty of exercise, especially for the upper body, and improves balance and coordination,” President Hong Prodnuk of ACT International told TDmonthly. Launch date: June 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11932 (added 3/14/2007)
Made in Italy under license from Ferrari, the Enzo is every bit as desirable as its adult version. Features include rubber tires; an adjustable sports steering wheel; wing mirrors; authentic stickers; an electronic accelerator and brake; polyethylene bodywork; forward, reverse and neutral gears; and a 12-volt electric motor. A rechargeable battery and charger are included. The car travels at 3 or 5 mph. Max rider height is 3.6” tall; max rider weight is 65 lbs. Toys Toys vehicles are "modeled after real sports cars. They have metal frames, and some of the models have rubber tires," Owner Chad Austreng of Big Toys USA told TDmonthly. "They're high-end, unique, exotic cars." Launch date: April 6, 2007.
― “So far, the most helpful company that I have worked with is Big Toys USA,” Bobbie Surra of Kool Kid Toys told TDmonthly in Spring 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12107 (added 3/27/2007)
CATŪ Front Loader with Backhoe by KETTLER INTERNATIONAL INC.
Other products from KETTLER INTERNATIONAL INC.
Our CATERPILLAR® Tractor is for kids but I just like the real thing! With a first of its kind back hoe digger included, a fully functional front loader, and a hood that lifts, this tractor will stretch your child's imagination to its limits! Made in Germany and constructed of high impact resin, its sure to last. Recommended Ages: 3+
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10197 (added 11/21/2006)
Made in Spain, this motorcycle can go up to 4.5 miles per hour. The battery will last for up to two hours of riding time. The vehicle does not go in reverse, and a charger is included.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12026 (added 3/21/2007)
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This self-propelling, three-wheeled ride-on toy cruises smoothly and silently along the ground, similar to the movement of a snake. The rider simply sits in the seat, feet-first, and propels with an easy back-and-forth leg movement, demonstrating a special combination of physics properties that fascinates most first-time observers. There are no chains, no motor and no batteries. The product comes packaged with extendable axis rods (S, M, L), so it can grow with the child. “Awe-inspiring physics” and “the strong, long-lasting steel tube frame and overall quality construction” really set this product apart, according to EzyRoller President Denis Allais. Launch date: May 2007.
— Anyone can sit back and get a workout with this sleek and sporty, three-wheeled ride-on toy that moves fluidly with back-and-forth leg motion. Its long, low-set and adjustable design differentiates it from other ride-ons, as do the properties of physics that bring it to life. Such stats have garnered the Ezyroller a TDmonthly Innovations 2007 award.
— Jeanette Lauture of Aunt Jean’s Toys & Treats in Montclair, N.J., told TDmonthly in summer 2008 that the Ezyroller is a hot seller in her store. “This New Zealand outdoor ride-on toy is very innovative and has longevity for kids 3 to 14 years of age,” she said. “I’ve been selling it since October of ‘07.”
Where to buy:
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11949 (added 3/16/2007)
A child’s first ride-on motorcycle, the Ducati Monster features two-position adjustable side training wheels, accelerator sounds, colored headlights, blinkers and a working horn. It helps develop coordination and creative and social skills, and is suitable for children 18 months and up.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11931 (added 3/14/2007)
Triton: The Ultimate Three-Wheeled Cruiser by ASA PRODUCTS INC.
Other products from ASA PRODUCTS INC.
This pedal cruiser with an adjustable frame features a unique steering system composed of vertical handles on both sides of the driver’s body. The Triton is said to be smooth-riding, safe and easily maneuverable. And riders can get a cardiovascular workout while they’re cruising around. It is available in red, blue and silver. Launch date: December 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11711 (added 2/28/2007)
The body of this collector’s dream features high-density fiberglass and a paint finish, and the interior boasts two adjustable seats covered with imitation leather. It has heavy-duty tires, full suspension, a rear disk brake, a gearbox and more. The car is 81” long, 40 ½” wide, and 27” high, and can go up to 12 mph. Production is limited, and it also comes in red and white. “The attention that is given to detail and the meticulous engineering built into the mechanical workings of these cars makes them very special and worth the price,” the President of Cars for Children told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10664 (added 12/14/2006)
This black beauty heirloom is built with quality steel construction. Authentic character includes enamel paint, chrome windshield, steering wheel and hub caps, padded seat, solid rubber tires and adjustable five-position pedals. This toy’s safety has been tested and approved, though adult supervision is required.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10242 (added 11/27/2006)
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Writer's Bio: A. Antonow is a freelance writer who lives in Canada. She has written for businesses and individual clients alike, developing copy, content, advertising and ghostwritten material. Read more articles by this author
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